By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights girls lacrosse team returned to the postseason last spring, and Coach Jill Pomposi hopes that the team liked the taste of success.
Southington finished fifth in the CCC North last season with an 11-5 (2-4) regular season record, and returned to the state tournament as the No. 8 seed. Even with an early, first-round exit in the Class L state tournament, Pomposi still thought her Knights did very well and are working their way up to the top of the conference.
“We ended up with an eight-seed in the tournament, which was amazing because it was a home game and we haven’t had one of those in a while,” said the coach. “Unfortunately, we didn’t end with a win, but that doesn’t mean that our season was a failure. We achieved a lot by having success against teams that we haven’t always had success against. Little wins really helped the morale and helped the people believe that we are a team to contend with.”
The Knights have 10 seniors coming back to this year’s team, but are also losing 10 seniors. How the Knights will fill those holes is the biggest question in the preseason.
“They all brought something different to the table,” the coach said. “We had some vocal leaders, but most were big hustlers. Hopefully they set the right example and the young girls really pick up on what they did. It will be a loss losing all of those personalities, but hopefully they trained the girls as to what they will need this year.”
The Knights also have two juniors, seven sophomores, and two freshmen coming back to the varsity squad. Pomposi named seniors Helen Dinnan, Jessica Lee, Alexa Luponio, and Megan Palumbo as the team captains.
In addition, senior goaltender Allie Abacherli returns to defend the net this season as one of the leaders of the Knights.
Sophomore Hallie Altwies is a key, returning player on defense. The midfield will consist of Lee, junior Faith Ritchie, and sophomore Morgan Raymond.
The attack will include Dinnan and Luponio. Palumbo is recovering from an injury she had sustained in the fall.
“We seem more fit than we were last year at this point, which is huge for us” Pomposi said. “The personalities are blending differently. We seem to be working better together as a group. There is a lot less individual play and a lot more ‘this is for the best of the team’ play.”
Pomposi said that the first few weeks of this season will present tough games, playing non-conference teams like Daniel Hand, Guilford, and Amity, who have all made their respective state tournaments last season. Every team but one, made their respective state tournaments from the CCC North as well.
Pomposi said that the key to this upcoming season will be worry about it, one possession at a time.
“We need to focus on clearing that ball up from Allie out of the goal, sending it all the way to the other end,” the Knights coach said. “We have to worry about that yellow ball for however many seconds we have it for. Not, five second to go, we let in two goals. We really have to love in the present possession, even if it’s a defensive stretch. Just worry about it that minute, that time.”
The Knights have been working on pushing past their mistakes to be mentally strong. Communication will be a big strength for the Knights this year, with most girls familiar and comfortable with each other.
The defense will have to step it up after the Knights lost some of their starting defensemen to injury and graduation.
The Knights are still searching for postseason glory and an opportunity at Class L state title, never making a championship game appearance. The farthest the Knights have gone was the first round of the tournament.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.